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Early signs of future problems in children — 11 Comments

  1. Joyce, this is a terrific article and acknowledgement of an “issue,” can only begin when DENIAL is banished. For denial to be banished, all adult parties must be on board and consistent, EVEN when it’s easier, less dramatic, and less painful to let boundaries slide.

    Nobody “wants” their child to have a conduct or personality disorder. Nobody. Having typed that, a dysfunctional environment for ANY child can be a catalyst to sociopathy that might have been attended to in a “healthy” environment.

    What the paragraph above means is that “staying together” for the sake of the child(ren) is a GRAVE MISTAKE. If both parents aren’t endowed with strong, healthy core beliefs and work together on a consistent basis, no amount of wishful thinking or false hope is going to assist a disordered child to develop a rudimentary “understanding” of empathy and boundaries.

    Conduct disorder……….ugh……

  2. Truthy, I don’t hold myself out as a “perfect” parent, because God alone knows all the mistakes I made, but I can testify that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.

    Unfortunately, my husband was mentally ill and deserted us (with the help of his controlling father) but I made sure that my sons had good male role models in their lives, friends and family, and that they had therapy after my divorce, schools that were able to give them what they needed, but it was like someone turned my son into a kid I didn’t know when he hit puberty…it all went out the window. Unfortunately I thought if I did everything I could there was some way I could magically get knowledge and wisdom into his head and he would respond by stopping his criminal behaviors.

    Unfortunately the DNA was too strong, both his father and I had fathers who were violent and controlling, and there were many other relatives who also qualified as offenders (most of them avoided jail for their abuse of wives, etc.) but there comes a point when just as a person who has alcoholic genes, no matter if they are raised away from alcohol, choose to drink and over drink, bringing out the worst in them. DNA definitely has an influence, but I also believe that in some cases a loving family can overcome that tendency, but not always. NOT always. It is sad for the families of these offenders.

    • Joyce, UGH….I lost my response in the great vacuum of cyber-ness!

      There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, or perfect family dynamics, IMHO. As parents, we do the best that we can with whatever we have available and, at some point, our children begin to make whatever decisions that they make and either have a sense of conscience and remorse, or they don’t. “Mixed messages,” in my situation, assisted Mike in developing into an abusive and manipulative individual. The messages that he was observing in our family dynamics were sent by al parties, including myself. Having typed that, he had every opportunity to alter his choices and demonstrate an understanding of his own actions and the consequences OF those actions, and this made no difference. All of the counseling, support, encouragement, understanding, and love did not alter his path, one iota.

      There is a movie that I highly recommend to people who are secure in their recovery titled, “We Need To Talk About Kevin.” This movie is extremely gritty and potentially triggering on an extreme level if the viewers have experienced a disordered child of their own. However, aside from this, the script speaks of expectations, hopes, denial, and desperation that parents experience with a disordered child.

      I don’t know if psychopathy is increasing, or we’re just seeing more information due to technological advancements, but I never remember the types of disorder that we’re seeing, today, when I was an adolescent.


      • Truthy, I had to laugh at your comment above

        I don’t know if psychopathy is increasing, or we’re just seeing more information due to technological advancements, but I never remember the types of disorder that we’re seeing, today, when I was an adolescent.

        If you get a poodle dog, or whatever breed you get, you SUDDENLY notice that there are so MANY MORE poodles etc.

        i.e. once we become aware of something we start to notice every time we see one. We had those same kids in school and we called them “thugs” or “bullies” and they smoked out behind the gym, but part of the difference then versus now was that the behavior wasn’t tolerated that is tolerated today, and frankly, they didn’t want to be sent to the Principal’s office and have to have their back sides paddled.

        Also, in my area at least, there were no drugs available and little alcohol so that kept a lot of the “bad” behavior down.

        Do you remember the movie “The Gangs of New York?” well there were gangs and violence a long time before we had the “Bloods and the Crips” so I think actually, part of our “increase” in bad behavior is simply our perceptions, and hey, WE NOTICE NOW, and there is also better news coverage. I think the kind of violence we have goes back to Cain killing Abel and they had no violent video games, or gangs, I think it was simply as the Bible pointed out, ENVY and MALICE.

  3. While looking at the brain responses is a good start, it really doesn’t explain WHY these brains function differently.

    I think that what is being described is schadenfreude — taking pleasure in other peoples’ pain. Rather than not feeling anything at all, I think psychopath feel the opposite of what they should feel. And they don’t just occasionally experience schadenfreude, it’s a consistent response to seeing other people suffer.

    • Sky, not all kids with conduct disorder go on to be criminal offenders, or even psychopaths that “mainstream” and avoid jail or prison by skating under the legal radar, but there is scientific proof that there is some inherited tendencies toward violence, high risk taking, and other antisocial behaviors.

      It also runs on a “bell curve” of some are worse than others, DNA not withstanding.

      Unfortunately many times it is too late to do anything by the time we realize as parents and society that there is a problem.

  4. A blogger just sent me the following article and I thought this might be a good place to post it, as with this child (who later killed two of his younger adopted brothers) had shown some signs of problems (running away at age 11, which sort of hit me as my son also ran away at age 11) yet was described as a “model child” which my son Patrick was also described as a “model child” until he turned criminal. My heart breaks for this family.


  5. Sky, my layman’s belief about WHY children are less sensitive to painful images, etc., is that we are working with four generations of desensitization via media, marketing, and advertising. There was once a time when the word, “diarrhea,” would never have been allowed in advertising, much less the word, “erection.” Today, NOTHING is “disturbing,” anymore.

    In movies and television programming, we have gone from sublime suggestion that sparks the imagination to in-your-face risky behaviors that are not only tolerated, but encouraged. Violence in programming, games, and news reports is so prevalent that even adults my own age just shake their heads and remark, “What a shame.”

    I can clearly remember that “drama” was when Timmy fell down a well and Lassie made every attempt to save him. I remember that values and ethics were extremely important in all manners of communications. Having typed that, there were cultural and societal aspects that were reprehensible: bigotry and hatred for gays, women, and persons of color. There were horrible aspects of those bygone times, as well.

    Today, not one aspect of the human condition – from flu symptoms to sexual interactions – is sacred and private. Every nuance of humanity is extracted and exploited in such a way that young children are exposed to terminology, concepts, and behaviors that they are not developed enough to process. The information is an overload, on every level. So, what must the human mind and brain do when there is a sensory overload? Certain things must be an immediate disconnect – no feeling, no connection, no response.

    When I was a child, it was a supreme excitement and special occasion to go out to a restaurant for a meal. Because it was such a special event, children had an innate understanding that they were expected to VIEW the event as a “special occasion” and behave, accordingly. Today, it is common practice to take a newborn infant into Applebee’s to be exposed to stimuli that they are NOT prepared to endure – thus begins the desensitization of one more human being. Then, parents have ever manner of technological device taking the place of simple human interaction. Televisions, cell phones, video game consoles, and computers have absolutely replaced interaction and communication, on every level.

    This is really the only way that I can explain, in my own mind, how children are becoming more, and more disordered. There seems to be a distinct and pervasive erosion of the very fabric of humanity, and it’s all boils down to money. Advertising, video games, iPhones……all of it has undermined ethics and values, IMHO.

    Just my 2 cents

  6. In the case of the sociopath (aka spath) that I know, his “roots” created his disorder. I’ve studied developmental psychology and it is spot-on. The spath’s father was physically abusive towards his wife and children. Now, the mother didn’t bond with her children, being unable to do so, due to her own issues (she felt rejected by her babies and would put them down, away from herself). Since the spath and his siblings failed to fully bond with a caregiver, they were all negatively affected, unable to develop into healthy people. In the spath’s case, I believe that he had the genes for the disorder (on the paternal side of the family), plus having the “right” environment, he became a spath.

  7. Bluejay, I agree that people becoming character disturbed is definitely a MIX of genetics and environment. Medical research at this time is underscoring this as both genetic and environment.

    Truthy, your assessment that our media desensitizes our children to violence and wanton sexual behavior I think is totally right on as well. Children see violence and they do violence, but look at what “daddy” and in some cases mom, are watching…”wrestling” on a scale of the gladiators in the Roman arena, movies and TV shows showing blood, guts and gore, and violent sexual encounters, foul language, and some children are going to copy this behavior.

    I think it is important that we model good behavior for our children to instill a moral sense into them, and I also think it is important that they NOT be exposed to violent TV and other violent media. Being a parent is not easy, especially in a world filled with things we don’t want them to copy. But there have always been evil people among us humans, and people who are violent, mean, greedy, etc. so there has always been “sin” in this world that children could be exposed to, and it is the parents’ jobs to teach their children not to participate in this kind of behavior.

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